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the snow instigateth not lugubriosity within me…

The Egyptian singer Nesma Mahgoub, in the song’s chorus, sings, “Discharge thy secret! I shall not bear the torment!” and “I dread not all that shall be said! Discharge the storm clouds! The snow instigateth not lugubriosity within me…” From one song to the next, there isn’t a declensional ending dropped or an antique expression avoided, whether it is sung by a dancing snowman or a choir of forest trolls. The Arabic of “Frozen” is frozen in time, as “localized” to contemporary Middle Eastern youth culture as Latin quatrains in French rap.
So Disney used to translate its movies into Egyptian Arabic but recently switched to Modern Standard Arabic, which is somewhat more formal.
posted by MartinWisse on Jun 4, 2014 - 19 comments

Artist's Notebook: Ramsey Nasser

"Arabic programming languages with the honest goal of bringing coding to a non-Latin culture have been attempted in the past, but have failed without exception. What makes my piece قلب different is that its primary purpose was to illustrate how impossible coding in anything but English has become."
posted by invitapriore on May 5, 2014 - 46 comments

Introducing Yasmine Hamdan

"If you think you know what Middle Eastern music sounds like, think again — because Beirut-born electro-pop singer Yasmine Hamdan is positioning herself in an incredibly interesting place."
posted by desert_laundry on Mar 29, 2014 - 21 comments

the majority of the themes in this comic are based on real experiences

Qahera the hijabi superhero, in Arabic and English
posted by the man of twists and turns on Nov 10, 2013 - 46 comments

Translator Beware

"Why translators should give Dr Alaa Al Aswany and Knopf Doubleday a wide berth" is a "cautionary tale," which involves literary agent Andrew Wylie, seen in a recent metafilter post, and translator Jonathan Wright who says, "The least I can say is that he [Dr. Aswany] is not an honorable man. But let others be the judge, as I explain the origins of our dispute." Some of Dr. Aswany's objections to Wright's translation can be found in this file.
posted by ChuckRamone on Oct 28, 2013 - 16 comments

Found in Translation

Though it is common to lament the shortcomings of reading an important work in any language other than the original and of the “impossibility” of translation, I am convinced that works of philosophy (or literature for that matter — are they different?) in fact gain far more than they lose in translation. [more inside]
posted by whyareyouatriangle on Sep 5, 2013 - 43 comments

Speaking in foreign tongues

The Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates has spent the last few months in Paris specifically studying French. His latest dispatch, "Or Perhaps You Are Too Stupid to Learn French," looks at how hard it is to apply the rules of new language in real time, while fighting with one's perceptions and limitations (Other dispatches are here).

Washington Post writer Jay Matthews asks if learning a foreign language is worth it and recounts his own struggles studying Chinese. Another WaPo writer, Elizabeth Chang, recalls her experience in learning Arabic.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Aug 22, 2013 - 200 comments

Typical Pentagon boondoggle

The Global Language Online Support System (or GLOSS), produced by the Defense Language Institute in sunny Monterey, CA, offers over six thousand free lessons in 38 languages from Albanian to Uzbek, with particular emphasis on Chinese, Persian, Russian, Korean, and various types of Arabic. The lessons include both reading and listening components and are refreshingly based on real local materials (news articles, radio segments, etc.) rather than generic templates. [more inside]
posted by theodolite on Oct 11, 2012 - 23 comments

Iraqi Maqam

The maqam al-'iraqi is considered the most noble and perfect form of the maqam. As the name implies, it is native to Iraq; it has been known for approximately four hundred years in Baghdad, Mosul, and Kirkuk. The maqam al-'iraqi has been passed on orally through the Iraqi masters of the maqam, who cultivate the form especially in Baghdad. The maqam is performed by a singer (qari') and three instrumentalists playing santur (box zither), juzah (spike fiddle), and tablah or dunbak (goblet drum).
posted by Trurl on Sep 11, 2011 - 5 comments

12 reasons why Arabic is terrific

Why Arabic is Terrific
posted by wpenman on Aug 23, 2011 - 66 comments

Tahrir Documents: The Revolution Will Be Translated

Tahrir Documents is an ongoing effort to archive, translate, and make available printed matter from the 2011 Egyptian Revolution and its aftermath. We are not affiliated with the papers’ authors nor with any political organization, Egyptian or otherwise. [more inside]
posted by jng on Mar 28, 2011 - 6 comments

"I suppose it looks strange to you to see Superman speaking Arabic"

"Until about 1964 most comic books in the Middle East were in either English or French.... Then a forward-looking editor began to wonder why comic books could not be translated into Arabic." Illustrated Publications, a Beirut-based company, did just that, starting with Superman. As a reporter for "Al-Kawkab Al Yawmi" he swooped into the Middle east from distant Krypton on February 4, 1964. The mild-mannered report, Clark Kent, became Nabil Fawzi, whose name roughly translated to "Noble Victory". The text of the comics was translated, but the rest of the comic looked an awful lot like the Superman of the United States, except the covers lacked context, Superman's S logo was reversed, and some of the colors were skewed in odd ways. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Jan 31, 2011 - 5 comments

The Wonderful World of Babel

Unlike many cinematic exports, the Disney canon of films distinguishes itself with an impressive dedication to dubbing. Through an in-house service called Disney Character Voices International, not just dialogue but songs, too, are skillfully re-recorded, echoing the voice acting, rhythm, and rhyme scheme of the original work to an uncanny degree (while still leaving plenty of room for lyrical reinvention). The breadth of the effort is surprising, as well -- everything from Arabic to Icelandic to Zulu gets its own dub, and their latest project, The Princess and the Frog, debuted in more than forty tongues. Luckily for polyglots everywhere, the exhaustiveness of Disney's translations is thoroughly documented online in multilanguage mixes and one-line comparisons, linguistic kaleidoscopes that cast new light on old standards. Highlights: "One Jump Ahead," "Prince Ali," and "A Whole New World" (Aladdin) - "Circle of Life," "Hakuna Matata," and "Luau!" (The Lion King) - "Under the Sea" and "Poor Unfortunate Souls" (The Little Mermaid) - "Belle" and "Be Our Guest" (Beauty and the Beast) - "Just Around the Riverbend" (Pocahontas) - "One Song" and "Heigh-Ho" (Snow White) - "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" (Cinderella) - Medley (Pinocchio) - "When She Loved Me" (Toy Story 2) - Intro (Monsters, Inc.)
posted by Rhaomi on Nov 12, 2010 - 31 comments

Iranian Typography

Iranian Typography Now makes a nice appetiser to a book like Graphic Design from the Arab World and Persia (annoyingly small flash gallery) where calligraphy goes digital and comes alive as it collides with graphic design, art, graffiti, and even light.
posted by Slyfen on Sep 3, 2010 - 5 comments

Federal panel concludes Brooklyn principal was discriminated against

Debbie Almontaser, who was set to be the principal of a new dual language Arab-English school in 2007, was instead pushed out and forced to resign after she answered the question "What is the root word of 'intifada'?" She answered "shaking off" and many in the news media ran with this as a story. Things didn't go well for her after that, until a federal panel yesterday concluded that she had been discriminated against.
posted by i'm being pummeled very heavily on Mar 13, 2010 - 46 comments

He has a wife, you know

Life imitates Python: The Life of Brian's unfortunately-named Roman has a real-life counterpart, and he's been denied ambassadorship to Saudi Arabia due to the fact that his name means "biggest dick" in Arabic.
posted by Jon_Evil on Feb 4, 2010 - 91 comments

calligraphy

Calligraphy Qalam An introduction to Arabic, Ottoman and Persian Calligraphy. See a gallery, a timeline of scripts and styles, a blog with entries such as how to design your own square kufic calligraphy, and much more.
posted by dhruva on May 11, 2009 - 8 comments

Dabke the national dance of Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Jordan and Iraq.

Dabke (in Arabic the "stomping of the feet") is a folk line dance, performed by either just men, just women or both together. A national dance of Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Jordan and Iraq the Dabke is danced with different steps and rhythms in different areas of the Middle East.
posted by Lanark on Mar 30, 2009 - 9 comments

Fridge magnets in seven scripts

Fridge magnets in seven scripts – Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Cyrillic, Korean, Arabic, Devanagari. [more inside]
posted by joeclark on Jan 11, 2009 - 12 comments

Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman Calligraphy

Selections of Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman Calligraphy from the collection of The Library of Congress. 373 individual pieces from ranging in time from the 9th to the 19th Century, all explained and some translated. A few personal favorites (note that very high quality scans can be viewed by clicking the appropriate link after clicking thumbnail): marriage decree, verses on tragic love, practice sheet, verses 10-11 of the 48th chapter of the Qur'an, poetic verses offering advice, frontispiece of Qur'anic exegesis and quatrain by Rumi. There are also four special presentations: Calligraphers of the Persian Tradition, Ottoman Calligraphers and Their Works, Qur’anic Fragments and Noteworthy Items. This last presentation also features representational art, for instance images of The battle of Mazandaran and the Persian king Bahram Gur hunting.
posted by Kattullus on May 12, 2008 - 11 comments

Keyboard calligraphy

Keyboard calligraphy "To produce such a typeface, Müteferrika knew he had to analyze Arabic script. Calligraphers might learn to make the correctly shaped letter combinations by practice, without conscious application of tens of thousands of rules, but for machine reproduction of the script, deciphering those rules was exactly what was essential."
posted by dhruva on May 1, 2008 - 28 comments

New prestigious Arabic award for fiction

IPAF (International Prize for Arabic Fiction) is a new prestigious $50,000 literary prize managed the Man Booker Prize in London and sponsored by Abu Dhabi's1 crown prince of the United Arabs Emirates. The inaugural winner was announced on March 10: Baha Taher's Sunset Oasis (shortlist). English translations appear to be unavailable although some are in the works. This is the first international prize for Arabic literature, and it has stirred up some passions. [more inside]
posted by stbalbach on Mar 17, 2008 - 5 comments

Khalil al-Zahawi, RIP

Famed Arabic calligrapher Khalil al-Zahawi murdered. (Arabic: خليل الزهاوي‎; 1946 - 25 May 2007) Khalil al-Zahawi was the most famous practitioner in Iraq of the art of writing classical Arabic script. He was shot to death Friday as he left his home.
posted by psmealey on May 29, 2007 - 54 comments

"The station's gaffes have included broadcasting in December 2006 a 68-minute call to arms against Israelis by a senior figure of the terrorist group Hezbollah..."

Al Hurra television, the U.S. government's $63 million-a-year effort at public diplomacy broadcasting in the Middle East, is run by executives and officials who cannot speak Arabic, according to a senior official who oversees the program. That might explain why critics say the service has recently been caught broadcasting terrorist messages, ... from their About US page: Alhurra is operated by non-profit corporation “The Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Inc.” (MBN). MBN is financed by the American people through the U.S Congress. US Govt. Accountability Office abstract about other MBN problems here.
posted by amberglow on May 22, 2007 - 44 comments

New Islamic Art Exhibition Site

The new 'Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean' site incorporates material from 14 countries through 18 exhibition sites that explore the the cultural and artistic heritage of Islamic dynasties spanning 1200 years. [via].
posted by peacay on Apr 25, 2007 - 16 comments

The Book of Curiosities

For anyone with even a passing interest in Islamic history or cartography, 'The Book of Curiosities of the Sciences and Marvels for the Eyes' site at Oxford University's Bodleian Library will provide a thoroughly interesting timesink. This recently discovered 13th/14th century copy of an 11th century Egyptian manuscript was partly based on Ptolemy and includes the oldest rectangular map of the world...not to mention the famed human-bearing Waq-Waq tree. [via]
posted by peacay on Apr 5, 2007 - 7 comments

Beyond Bellydancing (Arabic Music)

Maqam World contains much more than maqamat. Rhythms, genres, instruments - all presented with audio examples, pictures, and even pronunciation. The podcasts are an added bonus. [Note: some multimedia features only work in IE, most audio in .rm (it's worth it, though)]
posted by imposster on Oct 31, 2006 - 6 comments

The Wacky World of Comic Book Propaganda

An official comic book adaptation of the 9/11 commission report is due to hit bookstores this month. The U.S. Army seeks an Arabic-speaking comic book creator. Meanwhile, an Israeli blogger suspects a Kuwaiti company of misusing Marvel and DC comics. These are just the latest incidents in a long-running history of using comic books for propaganda purposes, ranging from Mussolini and Hitler to Captain America vs. the Nazi-affiliated Red Skull to anticommunist comics for Catholic parochial schools to a phony Black Panther comic book created by COINTELPRO to a comic book of the American invasion of Grenada. However, my favorite site of comic book propaganda tends to focus on more innocuous domestic issues such as bicycle safety, USDA nutrition standards, and fighting crack cocaine. (OK, that last issue isn't so innocuous, but comic book propaganda about health & safety issues still generally blows.)
posted by jonp72 on Aug 4, 2006 - 38 comments

Yeah, right Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.

The Simpsons are going to... the Middle East! As a treat for viewers during Ramadan, Dubai-based network MBC has dubbed 30 episodes of the Simpsons into Arabic. But in order not to offend their audience, this version of Our Favorite Family is, well, a bit different; for instance, Homer (rechristened Omar) doesn't eat bacon or drink beer. Speculation about the fate of other characters abounds, One Angry Arab is not impressed.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Oct 21, 2005 - 28 comments

Al-Qaeda, Meet al-Salsa

Al-Qaeda, Meet al-Salsa Salsa music is sweeping the arab world, especially as played by Amr Diab, hailed by an Abu Dhabi taxi driver as "the Ricky Martin of the Arab World." But unlike Ricky Martin, Amr Diab combines Latin rhythms in an appealing mix with guttural Arabic lyrics. It's the type of cosmopolitan fusion that might now be welcome in Iran's growing but barely-tolerated music scene.
posted by teaperson on Oct 6, 2005 - 21 comments

Tarab.com - Free arabic music.

Tarab.com - Free arabic music. Use the map to navigate. Sadly just .ram-files, but tons and tons of them.
posted by mr.marx on Nov 2, 2004 - 7 comments

dbubble!

?????? ????? - Name:Zena Amaar / Location:baghdad, Iraq
I am 13 years old. I am in the 2nd class in AL-MUTAMAYSAT secondary school whech means the secondary school for excellent student. I spend most of my time working on computer and reading stories, i have a library of about 75 books some of them are stories and the others are poetical books. Also i help my mother in housework. My father is a lucturer in the colleg of engineering. At the same time he is postgradute student. He is working hardly to get the PhD in computer engineering. My mother is assestant prof. in the colleg of engineering. I have only one brother. He is in the primary school in the 4th class. I love my family so much. (via sylloge :)
posted by kliuless on Jul 13, 2004 - 14 comments

Linguists Dismissed

Knack for language? Great! Gay? No thanks. Interesting WaPo story of how DoD desparately needs linguists trained in Arabic, but dismisses linguists when it comes out that they are gay.
posted by cpfeifer on Dec 3, 2003 - 34 comments

Alphabet Evolution

Alphabet Evolution
See the evolutionary progression of alphabets through time and cultures. Examples include Cuneiform, Phoenician, Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, modern Cyrillic and the Latin character sets. The Latin is the best documented character set and requires a wide screen to see all the evolutionary events (especially Y and Z)
posted by Irontom on Oct 7, 2003 - 9 comments

The Right to Flash Petition

The Right to Flash is an online petition for Macromedia to properly support Arabic and Hebrew languages which read from right-to-left.
posted by hobbes on Jul 21, 2003 - 24 comments

Say hi to Hi!

The U.S. government launches Hi, a new Arabic-language lifestyle magazine targeted at 18-35 year olds in Middle Eastern countries. Story ideas for the first issue.
posted by monju_bosatsu on Jul 18, 2003 - 13 comments

Arab web portal

English-friendly Arab web portal: For those who want to better understand what Arab news agencies are printing/broadcasting or if you want to be able to read any web site published in Arabic, the Ajeeb portal has a free translation service. It translated Arabic to English more clearly than how I've seen babblefish handle other languages. However, one should approach any translation with circumspection, especially in light of current events.
posted by Modem Ovary on Mar 23, 2003 - 5 comments

You may not read Arabic, but the pictures speak for themselves.

You may not read Arabic, but do the pictures speak for themselves? [warning: graphic images] One big difference between Desert Storm and the current operation is the emergence of Gulf satellite news stations such as Al-Jazeera and Abu Dhabi TV, beaming live into homes across the Arab world. Questions of access aside, it's a given that these news sources will be broadcasting materials that inflame opinion, and would never get past the 'taste and decency' rules of British or American stations. Trouble is, most westerners don't read Arabic: so, should we be bookmarking such sources for another perspective?
posted by riviera on Mar 22, 2003 - 38 comments

It can be stately and elegant, beautiful and swirling or square and modern. It makes a surprising variety of intricate pictures. Why is the written word honored so highly in Islamic art? Find out by diving into the gorgeous world of Arab Calligraphy. Here's a friendly portal to help. Take time to linger over a language that took a different path. (Bonus for font freaks inside)
posted by mediareport on Jul 26, 2002 - 10 comments

Al Jazeera english language summary.

Al Jazeera english language summary. Since the original al Jazeera site is in arabic, this wbur website, gives a summary of the stories covered by the network in english. Of course, one can try to translate automatically (ajeeb, registration required), but the results are usually comical.
posted by talos on Nov 23, 2001 - 2 comments

From the Sunday NY Times comes an article detailing an unprecedented roundup of Arabic people living in the US, some as naturalized citizens, but most under varying types of visas, (oftentimes lapsed). And release bonds are but non existent The gov's strategy seems to be to try to cast a wide net and scoop up as many "likelies" to put a wrench in "The Base's" homeland terror machine. Calling it "widescale racial profiling" like the well documented Japanese internments of WW2, defense lawyers and civil libertarians are getting constitutionally antsy about the roundup, which they say accellerated noticably after the 9/22 warnings of imminent attack. Is their alarm well founded or reflexive and hollow?
posted by BentPenguin on Nov 4, 2001 - 24 comments

MSNBC launches Arabic version.

MSNBC launches Arabic version. This looks to be a partnership between MSNBC and GoodNews4me. I'm curious to see how different their version of the news is - can anyone with Arabic reading skills comment?
posted by kaefer on Oct 18, 2001 - 6 comments

Chechen Chat

Chechen Chat Arabic websites are quickly going 404, but this Islamic Russian chat room in Chechnya is still active. A fair site for general information too; it has an abridged translation of Mullah Omar's Appeal for Jihad.
posted by username on Sep 18, 2001 - 4 comments

last week, 6 days prior to the attacks, an FBI raid shut down numerous arabic websites. what did they suspect? many were offended by the action, do they feel the same way still?
posted by quonsar on Sep 14, 2001 - 2 comments

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